A film location scout for your next or even first short film can be a time consuming and difficult task, as it takes time and patience. Being an independent filmmaker, there are certain limitations when it comes to budget and resources but they should never stop you from making the short film you want. The reason why we have to scout locations before writing the screenplay is because we as short filmmakers do not have the budget to rent or pay for most of the locations that we have in mind. So, by scouting locations first, we can make adjustments in the screenplay according to the locations that we could arrange. These adjustments will not only help you to improve your screenplay writing, but also prevent you from getting into location problems. If you want to find a film location that suits your story and doesn't lead you into troubles like, then keep in mind following points and you’ll be fine.
The first thing, you'll need to keep in mind, is to act according to your story. For example, if you are trying to find location
For an action short film that has a fight scene in it, then you can look for a location that has a rough look to it and have some things around that your actors can easily break (without getting hurt) and make the scene look more realistic and tough.
For a romantic short film, you can look for a nice penthouse or a coffee shop, a place that has a pleasing look to the eye. It doesn't have to be luxurious, but should look decent enough for a romantic scene. You can even use your own house, if the story permits.
For a horror short film, then you should look for a house that has been closed for years. The house should have a haunted and scary look to it, so that it can add horror effect to your short film. And if your story is strong enough, you can also choose a hospital if required.
For a sci-fi short film, you can go with a local science lab that has some equipment in it to support your story or a doctor's private lab, if you have a doctor in contact.
Now, keeping the above mentioned points in mind, let's see how you can actually find the location you want for your short film.
1) Ask a Friend.
You should always ask your friends and relatives for help if they can arrange for some locations because you will not always get permissions to shoot at a public place or someone else's private property. The more friends you have, the better are your chances of finding the location. And, if your friends do not have the location that matches the setting of your story, then ask them to ask their relatives and friends to maximize your chances.
2) Pay Without Cash.
If you find a location that you can rent but don't have the cash for it, then talk to its owner and make a deal with him; that if he lets you shoot at this location, you will add a special credit of this place in your short film that will act as an advertisement for him. A good example would be a coffee shop as a location that you can put as an advertisement in your short film and attract many local customers. This kind of deals can be very profitable for both parties. And, if you want a jungle or a park as your location, then you will have to take required permission for it, since, shooting at such locations without proper permission can get you into troubles. So, talk to the required authority and make them to sign an agreement with proper stamp so that you will feel secure at all times during the shoot. To reduce your burden, we have made an agreement form that can be used for such purposes.
3) Take a Walk.
There is a quite a chance that the kind of location, you’re searching for, is in your neighborhood. So, be sure to take a walk around in your neighborhood.
4) Talk To a Peripatetic.
Peripatetic is a person who travels a lot from one place to another. Well, people who travel a lot have been to many places and there is a chance that they have seen a place within your reach, which matches your film location profile.
5) Use The Internet.
In this new age of internet, there are some good websites that can help you to find locations for filming.
• Flickr.com is a website where you can find locations near you based upon your interest. Just open the website, enter your city and type the location you want e.g. jungle, park or any kind of factory and it will show all related locations with pictures.
• Locationshub.com is a marketplace for film locations. It is a website that brings together individuals who are looking for film locations to those who have such locations available for use.
• Shotspot.com will help you find great places to take photos and shoot videos anywhere in the world. You just have to click on a country name to view more locations within it. Their red icon will show you a limited number of photo hot spots within the country.
Now, if you have finally found your location, make sure to do the following checks before leaving the location.
>> Take some pictures and shoot some videos for reference to write the screenplay. These pictures and videos will be of great help while writing the screenplay; since, you can refer to them anytime for better understanding of the location.
>> Finalize the timings for which you will be using the location depending upon your scene requirements. Let's say, you choose a room that has a big window in it, then the sunlight coming through that window can make a huge impact on the look of your scene. Or if you choose a park as your location, it might not have anyone on a Monday mornings but will be heavily crowded on Sundays.
>> One of the most common mistakes that we make is not paying attention to the noises. There can be different type of noises related to an area like sound of traffic, industries, factories, etc. which are not good for the filmmaking. In order to avoid this mistake, you should record a test audio of the place and listen to it carefully to make sure you aren’t getting unnecessary hindrance in background.
>> Make sure that the place has easily accessible power sources and outlets to connect your filming equipment. It should be easily accessible and have proper sanitation infrastructure. You should also check that the area has proper cellphone reception, if not, then how close is a landline phone that you can use.
>> If you choose a street or sidewalk area as a location, make sure that you are not blocking the traffic or a building's entrance.
Always try to pick a bigger location over a small one because you can easily fit more people and equipment in it; and it is easy to make a big room look small on screen than vice versa. If you have a small cast and crew, a small location will do just fine.
There are many such security measures that you'll have to take in order to make sure everyone is safe and sound, we will talk about it in another post. At last, we just want you to be prepared if anything goes wrong. You should be thankful to everyone around you as they are helping you to do what you love. Always keep a positive attitude and motivate others as well. Good Luck!
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